Keeping track of quote-to-close ratios, a practice that motorcoach operators are becoming increasingly mindful of, helps optimize customer data and increase sales. The ratios, as Autumn Dipert Brown, chief operating officer of Arlington, Texas-based Dan Dipert Tours & Coaches puts it, serve as a scorecard for your business.
“It’s really hard to coach or play in a game if you don’t know the score,” Brown says. “I’m the coach and have these players, and without all of us knowing the score, it’s really hard to push them in the right direction.”
Brown and other operators offer tips here to help operators score and increase their ratios.
1. Tracking, applying data
Dan Dipert Tours uses RBS Software Solutions to generate a “Supersales Summary” report every week, which breaks down quotes and sales by month and year-to-date (YTD), as well as shows sales booked for future months, Dipert Brown says. The operator has been using the report since the beginning of 2011 to track the average charter booking size and number of quotes and sales compared with the same time last year.
The report helped identify the cause of a recent dip in revenue. Dipert Brown recalls that at the end of January, the carrier had about the same number of quotes as last year, for slightly more money each, but booked significantly fewer trips for noticeably less revenue. Last year’s YTD showed several large tour bookings from a company that had since gone out of business.
“That was the big hit between last year and this year,” Dipert Brown says. “They normally booked seven tours throughout Europe in January. We can look at what was going on last year and use that data to know when we need to [make] calls.”
Similarly, Nashville, Tenn.’s Anchor Tours, formerly Anchor Trailways, uses weekly reports to track inquiries, quotes and face time with customers, including those that may be at the end of a contract, to increase its quote-to-close ratios.
Anchor uses Motorcoach Manager, a software program that automatically generates reports that signify when to call or email a customer and establish a relationship.
The operator has been able to easily track common dates and vehicle sizes customers are asking for, which aids in planning.
“When we started tracking monthly quote requests, we realized we went from almost zero to 27% of our requests for mid-sized buses. Requests for larger buses decreased,” Jared Stancil, executive VP, Anchor Tours, says. Anchor added three more vehicles to its fleet at the end of 2012, based on these numbers.
Additionally, once Anchor has a customer’s information, it always has another lead, and can keep them informed of its offerings and helpful travel tips. That data can be easily organized and sorted.
As it started to track quote-to-close data, Anchor reviewed the information it already had, Stancil says, starting with simple tracking and measuring methods, such as making notes in a spreadsheet or writing it down.
“What happened was, there were some things we ‘just knew’ but when we started writing and measuring, that wasn’t the case,” he explains. “There were other things that we learned that we had no idea [about]. It helped us to better understand what the demand [will] be for our vehicles, recast equipment needs and market pricing, and [see] where we fall. It helped [us] be a better and more competitive operator by making that second call. Nearly everyone already has the information. You don’t have to do anything elaborate.”
Tracking helps make staffing decisions, too. The first four weeks of this year, Dan Dipert Tours had low bookings and was getting concerned, but by week six, business started heating up, with about one quote every half hour. If this spike becomes a trend year-over-year in the fifth and sixth weeks, the operator will know they need all hands on deck during that time, Dipert Brown says.
“We know the phones are going to be ringing off the hook. If you don’t have the people there, you’re not going to be able to make those quotes.”
And, if you don’t get quotes out quickly, she adds, you’re not as likely to get them booked.